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250Ohm soundcard for music and gaming

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

It is really hard for me to find any soundcard which price would not get so close to the price of the actual headphones I want to buy - I actually considered an amp more of as a cheap add-on. Looks like I have miscalculated apparently.

I would truly like to find something not too expensive for 250Ohm headphones mainly considering beyerdynamic models e.g. DT990 Premium, DT990 Pro, DT880.
The main purpose of these headphone models is listening to music (classical, progressive metal) and gaming.
I was thinking about Xonar U7, DG and DX. To clarify, STX is already out of my budget reach.

I would really like to receive some aid here :)

post #2 of 19

The Sound blaster Z is a good choice as you can find it cheap on amazon and ebay usually around 60-69, Another good option is the Sound blaster omni which can be had for 49-55ish on amazon as well. Well if you are in the USA.  the DG/X wouldn't be a good choice, because it wont let them shine, I do own the DGX which is just a PCI-E verison of the DG and for the fun of it I have tried my T90 on it and nope it can't. But your best choice is the Z or the omni which are affordable if your in the usa, mainly the Oem Z.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, I live in Poland so no good with those creatives. Also I have read many reviews crticising the sound blasters regarding their game performance (and also their overall quality) as compared to xonars.
About the U7 model, I have read this big thread on this forum about it, but really everything in there leads to no conclusion really.
post #4 of 19

Alot of those reviews seem like they are looking at the older sound blaster line and not the newest line and based the facts off that, because sound cards like the sound blaster Z, ZXR and the Titanium HD PCI-E are actually very good sound cards and compare very good to the Xonar D2X, Xonar STX and Xonar ST in re guards to audio performance.   As for game performances if you mean hardware acceleration then that is moot, today cpus are much faster and are able to handle doing the work for audio, it be something different if you was on a older single core cpu or a older dual core cpu where you would notice it.  But on todays cpu you wont notice it and it moot to get a sound card for fps improvements that wont even be 1fps. Graphics cards is where you would get more fps at any way. I have own wide ranges of Asus Xonar and creative cards and I had none of those issues with game performances that people are mention in the reviews.

 

If Asus cards are the only cards in your location then a Asus Xonar STX if you have a free PCI-E 1x slot or PCI-E4x slot, Don't place it in a long 16x slot as you will hear bus sounds from the graphics card.  If you have a spare PCI then Asus Xonar ST, both ST and STX has a headphone amp that will handle 250ohm headphones. The only reason I mentioned the creative cards because they tend to be what people go for when they are gonna be gaming, For the creative features that not on any C-media based card.  If you use Virtual headphone then the Asus Xonar will have dobly headphone and when it is config correctly, with the speakers settings in windows and games set to 5.1 with the asus console panel set to 5.1 input and headphone output. Dolby Headphone can work very well. Of course turn it off and revert to stereo for music.  Z series has SBX surround headphone option which work the same way and Z series including the basic Z can handle 250ohm headphones as well and the ZXR has the same headphone amp that the ST/X and STX2 has. As well having op-amp sockets for changing op-amps. Which change the sound signature of the sound cards.

 

 The U7 and the DG/X has the same headphone amp it just the U7 is a external DG/X.  With the DX you will need to get a external headphone amp as the DX it self wont be able to drive 250ohm headphones. The DG/X U7 will be able to handle DT770 pro-80 as they are easier to drive. But not the 250ohm as the DG/X wont be driving them completely. You can still use a DG/X but in the long run the 250ohm models wont shine til a stronger headphone amp is plugged into them.

 

Also I suggest if you can go some where, where you can listen to those headphones that you are looking at and pick the one that you like, but make sure their listening stations are up to par so you can hear what they sound like exactly and not half driven.


Edited by genclaymore - 6/24/14 at 6:13am
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you for such an developed response :)
I would most possibly need to check for myself which sound processing system would be most adequate, but I do not have such possibility, so I will havet to stay with your opinion and other reviews of certain soundcards. 
One thing that might have escaped your notice is that I stated in the beginning that I cannot afford the STX :)

Then to restate it slightly I am looking for a soundcard that would be able to power 250 Ohm headphones decently, provide very enjoyable gaming or music experience and not exceeding a price of 100$. 

Actually, I have never listened to differences between 32 Ohm and 250 Ohm headphone versions (because these are the two most common variants). I listened only to Beyerdynamic DT990 32 Ohm, DT860 32 Ohm, Sennheiser HD598, Sennheiser HD558 and HiFiMan HE-300. In fact, I was really close to buying the DT990 32 Ohm, but I stumbled on some reviews comparing the different impedance versions and strongly crticising the low-impedance headphone variants.
So if there doesn't exist a possibility of finding such preferenced decent soundcard in this price range, would there really be a noticeable sound quality deterioration if I used the 32 Ohm version of e.g. DT990 with an integrated sound card or xonar U7/DG/X instead of the exemplary DT990 Pro 250 Ohm with an STX?

post #6 of 19

Yea they wouldn't shine til you plug them into something that better then onboard. Also it depends on which onboard it is, Most likely the DG/X will be better then your current mobo and usually the DG/X can be found cheaper then the U7.. But if you gonna use the 32ohm version then DG/X will be more then enough even for the 80ohm versions.

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Ok, that kind of elucidates many things. And what would be the difference between these 32 Ohm with a DG/X and the  well amped Pro 250ohm version?

By the way, what do you mean exactly by Xonar DG/X? You mean Xonar DG or Xonar DX or do you mean Xonar DGX? It confused me slightly :)

post #8 of 19

The main different is when a headphone is under amp, it do not perform the way that it should. Where a fully driven Headphone will shine and sound the way it should. You might actually like the DG/DGX with the 250ohm headphones, some people do. But Later on you can add a external amp or a sound card with a stronger headphone amp later on.  For now you have to figure out which headphones you will like. 32ohm model will work perfectly fine on the DG/DGX, so will the 80ohm models like I mentioned.


Edited by genclaymore - 6/24/14 at 10:30am
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for quick response :)
I actually thought also about a different option. I could change the DT990 32 Ohm (or 250Ohm with DGX) to DT990 Pro 250Ohm and a Xonar STX (the same price overall).
Is that a good "deal"?

Also I found out that a sound blaster Z is available in my country.

post #10 of 19

Yea in fact that would be the better option, The Xonar STX benefit is that it has a much stronger headphone amp then the one thats on the Z. The Z benefits is that it has 5.1 analog output in-case you decide to use 5.1 analog speakers and the Z still have a hp amp on it but it it weaker then the STX one and doesn't let you set it towards the headphones. The Xonar STX also have the option for op-amp rolling to change the sound card sound signature to your liking where the Z does not. That if your into that but its optional. So both cards has it pro and cons. If you will never use any 5.1 analog speakers then the Xonar STX.  Both cards has DD encoders in-case you decide to get a home audio receive or plug one into it using optical for 5.1 Dolby/DTS gaming.

 

 

In the end I would either go with the cheaper of the two card's if one is cheaper then the other, if the Z i the same price as the STX, I would say the STX since it has a stronger headphone amp like I mention since you might be using headphones only any way.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for your advice :)
An hour ago I wanted to create a seperate headphone choice thread, but it looks like this case is resolved as well :D

My final decision is Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250Ohm + Asus Xonar STX. 

post #12 of 19

I have a pair of 250 ohm DT990 pro's plus an STX and the combo works very well. I did use them with a Sounblaster Z for a while but the Z just couldn't push them to sufficient levels and left me constantly wanting more, you'll have no such problems with the STX.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by genclaymore View Post

 

In the end I would either go with the cheaper of the two card's if one is cheaper then the other, if the Z i the same price as the STX, I would say the STX since it has a stronger headphone amp like I mention since you might be using headphones only any way.

 

The Xonar ST/STX isn't just better, Imo its in another league compared to the SB Z in all aspects of SQ. With the ST or STX you really do get what you pay for and then some, it can compete with standalone DAC's well above its pricemark.

I sent my Z back immediately, it's a well featured card/ jack of all trades but a master of none, I found it a huge dissapointment, barely much better than my onboard sound in terms of SQ, on the other hand my lightly modded (OPA627 rolled) and sublime sounding ASUS ST will be used in my future systems for as many years as possible.

 

 

As they say... 'buy right, buy once'... you wont be dissapointed.

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ari33 View Post
 

 

The Xonar ST/STX isn't just better, Imo its in another league compared to the SB Z in all aspects of SQ. With the ST or STX you really do get what you pay for and then some, it can compete with standalone DAC's well above its pricemark.

I sent my Z back immediately, it's a well featured card/ jack of all trades but a master of none, I found it a huge dissapointment, barely much better than my onboard sound in terms of SQ, on the other hand my lightly modded (OPA627 rolled) and sublime sounding ASUS ST will be used in my future systems for as many years as possible.

 

 

As they say... 'buy right, buy once'... you wont be dissapointed.


I know the ST/X is better then the Sound blaster Z, the Z was mention as a affordable option for the op as not every one has that kind of cash to spend  and he did say he had a budget as well that he wanted to keep. He also mention gaming too which why I mentioned the Z series card for its gaming features.  I know Xonar cards has dolby headphone but I don't know if he will like Dolby headphone or SBX surround.

 

People will have different results then another person due to their ear's ,gear and the sound they're used to. I have own a STX twice so I know how it is and I used to be a big op-amp swapper my self so i know op-amp rolling is a great thing to have to be able to change your sound signature but if you know the sound your looking for, you can find and get products that has that exact sound. Without op-amp swapping as op-amp swapping can take time, to get the sound that your looking for and money. 

 

I have a couple of friends who found it better then their on-board solution's of course and they enjoyed it with their DT990 pro-250's, while one enjoy it more then his DG that he had.  The only thing the close to the Z that I had was the bad recon3D and even that was better then my onboard audio analog quality. So maybe you didn't like the sound signature and or was used to higher end gear that you couldn't get past the Z sound signature or limitations. But to most people the Z series is there only affordable option that they are willing to spend money on other then the DG/DGX.


Edited by genclaymore - 6/26/14 at 12:37pm
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys for all the support, I have already ordered DT990 Pro and an STX  :)
Also I heard that the PCI-E x16 slot is compatible backwards. That means You can plug in an STX (x1 PCI-E) into it, right?

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